Recipe: Boston Cream Muffins


The hardest part when I go to Tim Horton’s for a tea is not having the option to indulge in a Boston Cream Doughnut anymore since going gluten-free.

My sister decided earlier this year to implement “Muffin Mondays” where she tries to bake muffins and cupcakes to bring in to her office. Some weeks she said that she wasn’t able to get a batch ready in time for Muffin Monday but on those particular weeks it just so happened that someone else (i.e. Donna) had happened to bring in muffins that day. One day my sister mentioned that Donna had brought in Boston Cream Muffins…. and suggested that it was likely possible to make a gluten-free version. My jaw dropped to the floor at the idea of Boston Cream gluten-free anything and I demanded that she get this recipe from Donna. My sister immediately whipped out her blackberry and emailed Donna for the recipe.

I’ll include both the glutenous and gluten-free versions of the recipe below.

Gluten-Free Version:


For Cream Filling:

1 cup of milk
2/3 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons gluten-free flour (I used Nourish‘s blend of GF flour)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Muffins:

2 packages of Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (yields 12 cupcakes per package) or any other GF cupcake mix
6 Eggs (or as per other Gluten-Free cake mix directions)
1 1/3 Cup Water (or as per other Gluten-Free cake mix directions)
1 Cup butter, softened (or as per other Gluten-Free cake mix directions)
4 tsp pure vanilla extract (or as per other Gluten-Free cake mix directions)

For Ganache Frosting:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used Enjoy Life‘s chocolate chips to make it peanut/tree nut free as well)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, boiling


Make the cream filling FIRST!

Cream Filling:

1.Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until completely combined
2. Add gluten-free flour, whisk very well and set aside while heating the milk
3. Heat milk, heavy cream, butter and salt until simmering
4. Slowly add the heated milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture stirring constantly. Whisk well slowly
5. Return the mixture into the pot and bring to simmer stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken within 30-45 seconds. Take off heat.
6. Whisk in the vanilla, set aside to cool to room temperature


Prepare as per package directions

Gluten-Free Muffins just warm out of the oven

Fill a melting/decorating squeeze bottle (such as this Wiltonone) or an icing decorating bag (with a long thin decorating tip) with the cream filling. Insert the tip into several points on the top of the baked muffins while they are still hot and squeeze until you see the filling start to ooze out.

Boston Cream Filling

Boston Cream Inserted

Ganache Frosting:

1. Bring the heavy cream to boil, be careful not to let it actually boil or it will raise
2. Pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Cool to a little warmer then room temperature

When the muffins are completely cooled, remove the excess filling that might have expanded from the top of the muffins and dip the top of the muffins into the ganache frosting. Hold the muffins horizontal so that the excess chocolate drips free. You may want to turn the muffins to allow the chocolate to drip from various points. Once it seems like all the excess chocolate has dripped free, lay the muffins down so that the chocolate can properly set.

Completed Boston Cream Muffins!

Once set, ENJOY!! 🙂

For Donna’s regular (non-Gluten-Free) Version:

Cream Filling:

Same as above except she uses regular flour.


3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk
Note: the cupcake recipe didn’t call for oil but she would add 1/3 cup of oil (she usually uses olive oil)

1. Preheat the oven to 375, place the cupcake liners into the 12 cup muffin pan
2. Beat the butter is a large mixing bowl for 1 minute
3. Add sugar and beat for another minute
4. Add one egg at the time, beating after each addition (if you’re going to add the oil I’d add it here)
5. Beat in vanilla
6. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt
7. Add milk, beat well for about a minute
8. Pour into the muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean

Ganache Frosting:

Donna didn’t follow the above method for the ganache. She always put water in a dipper (about 2/3) and bring to a boil. She puts the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and place over the boiling dipper (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Once the chocolate is melted she takes it off the dipper and mixes in the cold cream.

I also doubled Donna’s Ganache recipe for the dipping method, so if following the non-gluten-free recipe version, half the amounts listed above.

Thanks to Donna for letting me indulge in Boston Cream again!! 🙂

How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera


In a nutshell:

Wedding. Depression. Medical Leave (for said Depression). A Restaurant Idea. A trip to Winners. An online Business Plan Course. A Blog.

So exactly how are all of these related, you may ask?

Up until we got engaged, I dreaded the thought of getting married – I would shutter at the thought of a traditional wedding. I like being unique and true to myself ….. a real roadblock when it comes to a traditional event. Once I realized that I was ready to get married, I decided that I would plan the wedding just the way that we wanted it: relaxed, fun, bright and colourful – and just as much about showing others a good time as having a good time ourselves.

I had so much fun planning our wedding. And the day turned out perfect! It truly was an awesome day, not only for us, but for everyone who attended. It was so awesome in fact, that did a feature on our wedding story. Please read our story here so that you get a bit of the background story of how our wedding led to Food Allergies Etcetera. As you would have come to learn from the “What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?” section, it was after our wedding that I realized that I need to be more creative and be able to work on something that I’m truly passionate about. At the time I realized that my current job wasn’t igniting a passion in me like I had come to realize that I needed. For a while I felt quite lost…. To the point that I stooped into a deep depression. Realizing that I had a very comfortable life, a well paid job with security, and the fact that I wasn’t satisfied with it made me feel like I was being a spoiled brat who couldn’t be grateful for what was placed in front of me. And these negative, self-defeating thoughts (which were fueled by the depression) only caused me to sink even further into depression. It was a very nasty cycle. But a secretive one at that. There were few who I had let in on my dark little disease, until it got so bad that I had a severe enough mental breakdown to make me not mentally or physically fit enough to continue working (I’d had many mini-breakdowns almost annually for the past several years, but none were of this severity). My doctor had written me off on medical leave for a month. I hadn’t dreamed that I would have lasted for two full months.

While I was on sick leave my doctor had started me on a mild anti-depressant. I had no idea what I was in for in that first month. I knew there would be side-effects but didn’t realize that I would have zero energy during the day while unable to sleep at night. Sleeping was one of those things that I said that I did best. Now, all of a sudden I wasn’t even good at that anymore. But I was told that I would feel worse before I felt better while waiting for my body to adjust to the meds. In the beginning I could barely pull myself from the couch I felt so bad. I’d spend my days alternating between playing iPhone games, scanning through Facebook, and imagining a restaurant where I could go to eat that catered to people with food allergies so that I didn’t have to worry about getting sick. What a wonderful place that would be! If only it existed 😦

Once I hit the 1month mark, I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor. I figured she was going to suggest that I was well enough to return to work (I was starting to adjust to the medication, after all). To my surprise, she said that I was only just starting to adjust to my meds and that it’s not until week 7, 8 or even 9 before I could expect to feel the full effect of the medication. I walked in feeling a bit stressed about the idea of returning to work, but walked out more relaxed because I knew I still had more time to adjust to my medication, as well as focus on some self-awareness/self-help reading. One of the books that I read while I was off was “Be Your Own Life Coach” by Jeff Archer. I found this book to be very helpful.

One day when I was feeling a bit better I decided to take trip to the mall to do some errands. I decided to pop into Winners to check out (what I jokingly call) the “Freaky People” aisle (the one with all the Gluten-Free, natural/organic products). Once I was in the store and was on my way to my aisle, I happened to walk past the kitchenware section. My eye caught a glimpse of a “Happy Blue” metal stacked dessert stand and I thought “That would look fantastic in a restaurant ….. I should buy that”

…… I could swear that I heard a record needle fall off of it’s record at that exact moment. I didn’t have a restaurant!! What was I thiking?!?

It was like I had an epiphany. That idea that I was dreaming up in my head for that restaurant that I was dying for to open, the one that catered to people with food allergies – maybe this was my sign that I was meant to be that person to open it! And with that, I found my passion. My drive. I couldn’t stop talking about my idea. And people were starting to notice how excited about it I was. My hair stylist once commented to me, after going on and on about it for a half hour, that “I haven’t seen you this excited since you were planning your wedding. And your eyes light up the same way when you talk about it!” Her comment not only made me smile, it also made me feel warm and tingly on the inside …. Like a sign that this is the direction that I am supposed to move in. When I think of my future restaurant, I see a world of colour and happiness. And content. 🙂

So, knowing that I couldn’t just jump into the restaurant business, I decided to take my leave from work to complete an online course on writing a successful business plan. And also to learn what dietary restrictions local people have and the challenges that they are faced with when trying to eat out – ergo, the Food Allergies Etcetera blog. 🙂

At the end of the 2 month leave, I returned to work on an ease-back period. My responsibilities were altered after it was realized that it was the area of work that I was previously doing that was causing such a personality clash for me. I could do the line of work, but it was such a stretch for my personality and natural line of thought that it was draining the life out of me. I was so good at hiding what I was going through that no one at my place of work had the slightest idea of how much I was suffering, mentally. After my leave I was honest with them and they were able to modify my scope so that I was working on projects that came more naturally to me. As a result, I’m back to working full time and enjoying it, but I’m still working on my blog in my spare time. Eventually, I hope to develop my restaurant idea, find someone to manage it for me, and put my plan in motion. Until then, I’m going to continue blogging and help those around the city find places that give them delicious options, despite having dietary restrictions. And I’ll continue to dream up colourful ideas for my restaurant, “Etcetera”! 🙂

Copyright: Charla Maarschalk –

Recipe: Go-Go Quinoa Salad!


I’d like to say that this recipe was inspired by one of my favourite childhood cartoons, Inspector Gadget (and his “Go-Go Gadget Arms”), but it is in fact due to the brand of Quinoa (pronounced “Keen-wah”) mix called Go Go Quinoa.

I discovered the Go Go Quinoa Granissimo 5 Grains mix earlier this year while perusing, what I jokingly call, the “Freaky People Aisle” at Winners – the section where you find all the organic/natural and Gluten-Free items. I picked up a package of this mix and it sat in my cupboard for months before I decided to test it out. There was a recipe on the back for a Granissimo Fiesta Salad which looked really good but I decided to modify it a bit, and the result was fantastic! The mix itself is gluten-free, vegan and organic. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have the organic version of the other ingredients in the recipe, but you could easily make this recipe completely organic (provided that you live in an area where you have access to organic groceries).

After the successful completion of the first Go Go Quinoa Salad, I decided to return to Winners to stock up on more of the mix. The thing that I’ve come to discover about the Freaky People Aisle at Winners is that it is always random and you’re never guaranteed to consecutively find a particular item. I’ve went looking for an item only to discover that a different item that I’ve tried before has been restocked (which I would advise picking up as many of the items as you can when you see it) and the item that I’m looking for is no where to be seen. Having no luck at Winners, I decided to buy a small stash of the mix online. I decided to see if the product was available from, a Canadian online health, beauty, and baby products store. The mix is $6.69 per package and the website offers free shipping in Canada 🙂

The Granissimo Fiesta Salad calls for raw vegetables and toasted sliced almonds but I decided to sauté my version. I decided to substitute in a regular onion for a red one, a sweet potato instead of orange pepper, yellow pepper for corn, and black beans for raisins. I also left out the fresh cilantro or parsley because I didn’t have any at the time.


1 cup of Granissimo
2 3/4 cups of vegetable broth
1 onion thinly sliced
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 small sweet potato diced
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 can of black beans (I keep the other half for a chimmichanga recipe)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (make sure they are gluten-free)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lime


In a medium pot, cook Granissimo in broth until most of the liquid is absorbed. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. In a frying pan, fry vegetables and slivered almonds. In a salad bowl, mix the oil, lime juice and balsamic vinegar. Add all of the ingredients and cooked mix. Refrigerate until time to serve.

You could easily serve this recipe warm if you wish (which is what I did once when I was pressed for time) and my guy says that he prefers it this way. Either way, the result is delicious! 🙂